What a wonderful choice! If we won’t agree to gouge out our eyes, then the legislature will slit our throats. Isn’t it nice that in our one-party state Harwell can make little pronouncements like this with such complete confidence? The empress has spoken!
Parents want options, “and we didn’t give them that. And consequently, where do they go next but to vouchers,” Harwell told The City Paper.
“If the Metropolitan school board is concerned about vouchers, then they should have been more conscientious in helping us bring in an outstanding public charter school to this state,” she said.
Harwell hastens to add that she herself isn't necessarily in favor of vouchers yet. But with the Metro school board acting so irrationally, she says, she can't promise she can stop her party from ramming vouchers through the legislature. If only the school board would change its mind about Great Hearts ... Hint. Hint.
What's best for the children? Asking that question is Diane Ravitch, the education historian and public schools advocate who’s been watching Tennessee from afar lately. On her blog, she points out:
Vouchers have no record of improving test scores wherever they have been tried. Not in Milwaukee, not in the District of Columbia, and not in Cleveland. It is simply choice for the sake of choice, choice for the sake of privatization.
Tennessee is 46th in education funding. What this state needs isn’t yet more school choice but more public investment to bring true equal opportunity to our education system. Nobody wants to talk about that.
HT: The Daily Buzz
Chip Forrester believes the Tennessee Democratic Party is in a better place now than it was four years ago. He also believes, however, that in all likelihood, the party will be a super-minority in the state legislature after the Nov. 6 election.
I spoke with Forrester, after the news broke yesterday that he would not be seeking re-election as the chairman of the beleaguered party. We talked about the reasons for his decision, the timing of his announcement, and how he can possibly believe those two things at the same time:
This Week In The 'Drome: Everything that's old is new again, Memphis blues, and more ...
Hasselbeck vs Locker: Part Eleventy: Remember when the Titans quarterback situation was settled?
Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck battled through camp and the preseason and the young Locker was declared the Two Toners' opening-day starter. That was all well and good — even if the football wasn't — because the Titans weren't looking very good in any event and the schedule was nightmarish.
Then Locker gets hurt, Hasselbeck comes in and wins some thrillers, and this minor shoulder injury to Locker suddenly looks major, the former Washington Husky needing just another week every week to get the tweak out.
So the grizzled Hasselbeck will start again Sunday against the Colts, with Locker (ahem) "expected" to return thereafter.
Mike Munchak, much as he insisted there was a quarterback battle during training camp, is insisting with all the enthusiasm he can muster that there isn't one now.
He is, of course, as full of it now as he was in July.
So the Hasselbeck-Locker battle rages like France and England between, oh, the Battle of Hastings and the Congress of Vienna, when the two powers fought so many wars, they stopped naming them with any rhetorical flourishes (the Seven Years War? How ever did you come up with that one, Early Modern Period headline writers?).
The old adage in the NFL is that a starter doesn't lose his job because of injury. A more practical adage is that you play the guy who gives you the best chance of winning. To be fair, it's not like Hasselbeck's Titans are running away with games while Locker's were getting blown out (though there were blowouts).
But in the NFL, the win column is all that matters, point differential mattering not a whit until the seventh tiebreaker. Which is good for the Titans, because despite their 3-4 record keeping them in the playoff conversation due to the AFC's chicken-broth mediocrity, their minus-89 point differential is the worst in the league.
Ultimately, does the quarterback matter? To a degree, sure, but unless the once-proud Titans defense elevates itself from "historically inept" to "merely awful," Rusty Smith might as well be calling the shots. [In our Anglo-French metaphor, Rusty is Saint Pierre & Miquelon, a quirky irrelevance]
Poor Ron Ramsey is upset that the Appeals Court has ruled that Memphians can show their library cards, which contain their photos, as ID when voting.
Lt. Governor and State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, who spearheaded passage of the law, said the library card “clearly violates the legislative intent of this law.”
His whole statement is even more hilarious.
"While allowing library cards clearly violates the legislative intent of this law, the court rightly affirmed the law's constitutionality. Just yesterday, we saw Democrat Party voter fraud efforts make national news in Virginia, as the son of a U.S. Congressman was caught on tape explaining how to commit fraud at the ballot box. This is exactly the type of illegal behavior our law will stop. Tennessee's voter ID law is necessary, proper and completely constitutional. This has been made plain by the courts and remains undisputed."
Here's the deal. Legislators are in charge of writing the laws. Courts then interpret those laws. If Ramsey doesn't like how the court interpreted his law, the fault is not with "activist" courts. It's with a shoddily written law. It's not the court's job to sit around and guess what legislators meant by the law.
Ron Ramsey can complain all he want about how "allowing library cards violates the legislative intent of this law," but the truth is that there's nothing in the law that specifically forbids the use of city-issued library cards with a photograph.
“This is the definition of 'legislating from the bench' and, frankly, is unacceptable,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Debra Maggart, snarled in a press release.
The GOP outrage is new evidence—if any is needed—of the party’s true goal in ramming this law through the legislature. That purpose mainly is to suppress the votes of black people, and especially the ones in Memphis who really annoy Republicans by actually running their city and taking their voting rights seriously. If they vote in large enough numbers, they can—and have—swung statewide elections for Democrats. And now they have managed to do an end-around the legislature, and they can hand out their own photo IDs for voting.
Does anyone think it would upset Maggart so much if the court was letting voters in, say, Ooltewah, use their library cards?
As for today’s decision on the law’s constitutionality, the plaintiffs' lawyers correctly argued it sets a dangerous precedent. The judges concluded it’s enough for Republicans to say the law is aimed at stopping voter fraud. They didn’t have to prove it. That’s something they can’t do, of course, because no such fraud exists. In so ruling, the court handed lawmakers carte blanche to restrict voting rights in just about any way they please for whatever reason they might concoct.
The plan should:
Reform Medicare and Medicaid, improve efficiency in the overall health care system and limit future cost growth;
Strengthen Social Security, so that it is solvent and will be there for future beneficiaries; and
Include comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues and reduces the deficit.
By pointing to the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission as "an effective framework for such a plan," the CEOs will make some Democrats unhappy, given how far Simpson-Bowles goes in advocating potential cuts to cherished programs. And they will surely make many Republicans unhappy by admitting the obvious: that raising revenue is also essential.
As The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required), this approach is a noticeable departure from other business groups, which tend to sidestep the matter of raising taxes. Although the CEOs aren't explicitly aiming the message in any particular political direction, what we have here is an impressive list of top executives from a variety of companies telling Mitt Romney and the Republican party that their approach to debt and deficit reduction — eschewing any possibility of new revenue — simply isn't credible.
The CEO statement comes from and through the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a self-proclaimed nonpartisan movement to "mobilize key communities — including leaders from business, government, and policy — and people all across America who want to see elected officials step up to solve our nation's fiscal challenges." The Campaign's founders are Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. (Yes, that Simpson and that Bowles.) Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is a member of its steering committee.
After years of inside chatter about his leadership, Chip Forrester will not be seeking re-election as chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party.
We've confirmed the news, which was first reported by the The Tennessean, with the party, and we're told an official statement is coming soon.
During his four-year stint as chairman, Forrester oversaw perhaps the worst period in the state party’s history. After losing control of the state legislature in 2008 — for the first time since Reconstruction — Democrats saw the state painted red in 2010 after a wave of Republican success.
After national embarrassment surrounding the disavowed U.S. Senate candidacy of Mark Clayton, the party is hoping to prevent further losses. If Republicans gain at least two seats in the state House and Senate this November, they will achieve two-thirds majorities in both, rendering Democrats practically irrelevant on the Hill.
However, Forrester leaves the party with a plan he hopes will get them out of the hole. In a May cover story, he described a strategic plan to The City Paper called the New Path Forward. Inspired in part by the modern techniques displayed by President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, the strategy is meant to strengthen the party’s ground game, using metrics-based campaign systems. The plan also focuses on building the party’s bench, and restoring strong communication amongst its various stakeholders.
Attempts to reach Forrester were unsuccessful, but we'll update here with any further statements from him or the party.
For the political junkie with an unquenchable 24/7 thirst for CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News and all things campaign, we have the perfect remedy: Go see movies about political campaigns! Vanderbilt's International Lens film series has two, count 'em two, classics of the political campaign feature film genre (granted, not the largest of genres) on the schedule for late October. The screenings are free and open to the public, and I will introduce each film and be joined by a member of Vanderbilt's political science faculty for a brief post-film discussion.
I'm not going to rehash the discussion of The Tennessean's oddball decision to endorse Romney. My position is that their endorsement of Romney makes no sense — not because of the liberal legacy of The Tennessean, but because of all the things they wrote immediately before endorsing Romney. It's as if whoever wrote the last few paragraphs didn't read any of the paragraphs that came before.
Instead, I'd just like to point you to the Free Press side of the editorial page at the Times-Free Press, where the Free Press endorses Gary Johnson.
If you were looking for a model of how to make an endorsement, you would be hard-pressed to find a better example. Like The Tennessean, the Free Press is endorsing a guy readers might be surprised to see them endorsing. But look at this beautiful writing.
It starts out with a clear statement about the editorial vision of that side of the opinion page:
It's not exactly an October surprise. In the campaign attack that everyone was waiting for, the state Democratic Party is making certain all of state Rep. David Hawk's Upper East Tennessee constituents know he's accused of beating up his wife. As you can see, the mailer sticks to the facts. They are certainly damning enough all on their own.
Missing from the mailer, of course, are Hawk's claims of innocence. The state's latest "family values" politician to go to jail returned to the House of Representatives on March 19 and declared, "“I did not harm my wife." He said he didn't have a clue how she came by that bloody lip and those bruises on her face.
In the House chamber that night, there were hugs and claps on the back and even a fist-bump for the accused wife-beater from his colleagues. But will voters send him back to Nashville?
His race is rated a tossup. Democrat Eddie Yokley, a former House member himself, is challenging him. Hawk managed to eke out a win in his Republican primary, and he says he's confident voters won't believe the allegations against him.
"They know what I'm capable of doing; they know what I'm not capable of doing," he said. His campaign slogan: "You know me. You know my heart."
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